Pujara nears another steady century as he prepares for 100th Test against Australia
Middle order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara will enjoy the perfect setting for his 100th Test when India play Australia in the second Test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy in New Delhi from Friday.
Pujara will be facing his favoured opposition at a venue where the surface is slow yet steady and where India have not lost a Test since 1987.
Nearly 13 years after his debut against the Aussies in Bangalore, Pujara will step out at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium – earlier the Feroze Shah Kotla – to become the 13th Indian cricketer to play 100 Tests.
“When I made my debut I never thought about playing 100 Test matches and it’s always about the present,” Pujara said on Thursday.
“Hundred Tests is something that happens in a journey and something you can’t predict, but once you continue playing good cricket, it happens.”
Pujara has stuck to his conservative approach to batting, despite being surrounded by more free-flowing batsmen and while England go about changing the facade of Tests with their ultra-aggressive approach. Pujara said his formula has worked well for him – notably in India’s successive Test series win in Australia.
“Each and every player has different style. What I have learnt in all these years is – stick to your strengths,” Pujara said.
“You need to back that and I have added few shots to my game in last couple of years and I’m continuing to grow as a cricketer.”
While Pujara celebrates a major milestone, India will be looking to put Australia under even more pressure having defeated them by an innings in Nagpur.
India’s spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel are likely to form the backbone of their attack, with fit-again batsman Shreyas Iyer expected to replace Suryakumar Yadav.
The Aussies will be bolstered by returning quick Mitchell Starc, but will be concerned by the poor form of opening batsman David Warner.
The left-handed Warner scored one and 10 at Nagpur and has struggled for form since scoring 200 in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa in Melbourne.
“I’m not a selector. I don’t think they’ve had a meeting but I’m sure Davey will be there,” captain Pat Cummins said of Warner’s selection for the New Delhi Test.
“You saw this year at the Boxing Day Test when he puts pressure back on the opposition he’s pretty hard to bowl to. You don’t get as many good balls, so he knows that. I’m sure that’d be part of his plan,” Cummins added.
India will be the favourites to take a 2-0 lead in the series, and push closer to the No1 ranking in all three formats and a spot in the World Test Championship final in June.